On Monday, Waltham Group joined with Cooperative Metropolitan Ministries to host the fourth-annual Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day of Interfaith Service. Over 50 middle and high school students flocked to Brandeis for the day, for mentor sessions, lessons about Dr. Kings legacy and key insight into the offerings of higher education. “We brought the legacy of Martin Luther King Jr. into the awareness of the middle and high schoolers who participated, as well as Brandeis students,” said Matthew Carriker, the Protestant Chaplain.
Carriker credits some inspired students from Waltham group with the idea behind the event. “Together, Waltham Group and CMM (Cooperative Metropolitan Ministries) put their heads together for a grant idea and applied for funding from the Massachusetts Service Alliance to fund the event. Thankfully, we got the grant! This is the fourth year in a row that Brandeis and CMM have partnered together to hold a Martin Luther King Jr. Day of Interfaith Service,” Carriker said.
In years past, Brandeis students and community members alike have packaged 6,440 macaroni meals, held interfaith dialogue between participants and organized poetry readings and celebration songs. Many well-known nonprofit organizations have played a role over the past four years, from Cradles to Crayons to Outreach, Inc.
This year, participants packaged 11,300 macaroni and cheese meals to be distributed to food shelters in the Greater Boston area. “I think a lot of the impact from today was reminding people that through community projects like this that bringing us together, we learn to love and care for each other and also to offer a helping hand to someone in need. I believe today had a very positive impact on all those attended, whether they are service veterans or new faces,” said Nate Shammay ’14, the hunger and homelessness coordinator and budget and steering coordinator for Waltham Group.
Younger middle school students were paired for mentoring purposes with Brandeis students. “I believe [they] got to explore the life of typical college students and also see that we are doing community service for our own sake, not for a service requirement to graduate,” said Shammay. Rachel Mayo ’14 also stated she believed “the middle schoolers and the high schoolers left feeling that their mentor was invested in their success, and that their mentor really valued them.” Younger students participated in a “March on Brandeis” tour, expected to emphasize the social justice values and principals Dr. King. stood for. “This event got people reflecting: How do I live out King’s legacy today?” Carricker said. “The middle and high school students got a sense of how important social justice has been since Brandeis’ founding, and the crucial role it still plays today.”
Mayo is president of Hillel at Brandeis, and stated, “Hillel participates in the MLK Interfaith Day of Service annually because we believe it is important to provide opportunities for tikkun olam [a Hebrew phrase that translates as repairing the world]/social action. We aim to use our service to exemplify the words of Abraham Joshua Heschel, a contemporary of Martin Luther King Jr., who said, ‘I pray with my feet.’”
Perhaps the most celebrated aspect of the day was the way in which it honored Dr. King. “Martin Luther King focused on community togetherness, giving and non-violent protest. Today we did just that,” said Shammay. Carriker points out MLK’s commitment to higher education, all areas of social justice and his interfaith collaboration. “King’s passion for justice came from his faith. King believed that God cared deeply for all people, and that God calls all of us to the work of ending oppression and injustice in the world,” said Carriker.
For students who missed the event this year, Carriker pointed out there is always 2015. He said, “We’d love to have you not only participate, but join in the planning! We are open to new suggestions about how to educate, serve and live out the legacy and wisdom of Martin Luther King Jr. Won’t you join us?”